Did you know that young children are seven times as likely as adults to attribute their own existence to the creation of God? Its true. A new study by Olivera Petrovich of Oxford University found that when children hear claims of God’s existence and creation of the world, those claims make perfect sense and match up to their experience in the world.
I read about these findings in a very interesting article at New Scientist’s website by Michael Brooks, titled, “Born Believers: How Your Brain Creates God.” The title is incredibly deceptive because the findings it reports actually cite no proof for our minds conjuring up ideas of God. In other words, the article is written as if God does not exist and seeks to shed light on how human beings over the years through evolution have developed beliefs concerning God. However, at one point the article notes that how our and why our brains tend toward belief in God has zero bearing on whether or not God/gods exist. This can be seen in Brooks’ question: “So if religion is a natural consequence of how our brains work, where does that leave god? All the researchers involved stress that none of this says anything about the existence or otherwise of gods.”
So if there is no evidence that our minds create God, then could it be that young children believe in God and in creation because they were created in His image?
Petrovich says that children “rely on their everyday experience of the physical world and construct the concept of god on the basis of this experience.” Thus when children hear the claims of God they seem to make perfect sense.
As Christians, these sorts of findings should not surprize us at all. If we truly believe that people are created in the image of God, we should expect children who have spent less time under the influence of this sinful world, would look around at the world and think–“some mighty being (God) created all this.”
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:19-20).
Jesse Bering of Queens University in Belfast, UK found that when one his students interviewed atheists, “it became clear that they often tacitly attribute purpose to significant or traumatic moments in their lives, as if some agency were intervening to make it happen.” Thus Bering concludes that even atheists “don’t completely exorcise the ghost of god – they just muzzle it.”
(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth . . . . (21) For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (22) Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:18, 21-23).
I know that my “connecting-of-the-dots” here, will not change many scientist’s minds about God, but isn’t it interesting how scientists assume that everything arose out of evolution and yet evolution hasn’t been able to kick this whole God-thing? In fact it seems we are wired to believe in God and it seems a little arrogant to assume that somehow we must overcome that wiring. Why should we assume that we ought to mature beyond our most basic assumptions? It could just be that we were created in God’s image and thus children tend to sense that the world exists and they exist because God created them.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).